Kettlebell Z Press

James Smith
• Wednesday, 28 October, 2020
• 4 min read

The Press can build strength, improve posture, and enhance pressing stability and performance in sports like weightlifting, powerlifting, and strongman. Additionally, it is a great exercise to reinforce proper scapular control and tension to aid in injury prevention of the shoulders during most pressing movements.

press kettlebell
(Source: www.youtube.com)


The Press starting position can be performed in a power rack with a barbell or flat ground with dumbbells or kettle bells. Form Tip: Spend 5-10 extra minutes stretching and opening the hip before performing the Press, even if you already feel warmed-up.

The elbows should remain under the wrists in the press, and when locking out, the arms should be fully extended, with the head coming through the “hole” at the top. The body will more than likely want to press with the weight slightly in front of it to build better balance, but this should be resisted by maintaining core tightness.

Form Tip: If you’re falling forwards or backward during the Press, then more than likely, your bar path may be wonky. Once you’ve locked out the weight overhead, you’ll bring down the press with control, so the core remains upright through the whole range of motion.

If you find that you’re wavering and losing balance during the descent, then try to slow your tempo, as this can help clean up the bar path. For example, if the hips are aching or tightening, then more than likely, this is an area that requires a little extra work for Z Pressing with ease.

The Press removes all aids from your overhead press, which will only make you stronger and better able to control the weight you’re moving. The Press leaves very little margin for error when taking a load from the chest to the overhead position.

kettlebell press single arm
(Source: www.youtube.com)

By performing Z presses, the lifter cannot excessively lean backward, fall forward onto toes, or use any leg and hip dip to help gain momentum. Be sure to continually practice the press, maintaining smooth and full control at the tip of the lift, and stay as upright as possible.

The shoulders, primarily the anterior (front) head of the deltoid, are responsible for most of the force to press the loads overhead. The lat muscles are used isometrically to help maintain an upright posture and the stability necessary to press and support loads overhead.

The obliques and rectus abdominal work to anteriorly compress the rib cage during all phases of the Press. The erector spinal contracts to maintain the lower back’s rigidity during the pressing and overhead aspect of this movement.

Strength athletes like powerlifters, strongman competitors, and weightlifters can all benefit by performing the Press. All of these athletes can gain shoulder/core strength and hypertrophy with the Press, which is key for success in each of their respective sports.

Weightlifters: Fantastic movement for improving hip mobility/strength and increasing the ability to maintain an upright torso with a strong core, which is a fundamental aspect of the snatch and clean and jerk. Still, it’s also great to use for improving muscular endurance capacity, which is a vital characteristic of successful functional fitness athletes.

press kettlebell dumbbell barbell
(Source: www.youtube.com)

Second, it can help build a strong foundation of core strength and hip mobility, which are two keys that can translate to longevity in the gym. Do two to three sets of five to 10 reps with a light to moderate load, working on control and movement coordination.

The important thing here is never to lose tension in the core and really focus on keeping the rib cage tucked in and down to allow for maximal recruitment and assistance from the obliques and rectus abdominal for added structural stability. You can mix in tempos and overloading principles like drop sets or supersets (with other shoulder/back movements) to enhance muscle growth further.

Some lifters may want to train greater muscle endurance (mainly for sport), in which higher repetition ranges and/or shorter rest periods are recommended. The barbell overhead press trains the same movement pattern and muscle groups as the Press.

However, it can more easily be performed in a way that compromises core strength and posture (for example, many lifters will hit a sticking point and flare the ribs cage). Kettle bells dangle lower than dumbbells when held, and this off-centered load creates an added stability challenge.

This is a great movement to reinforce stability in the bottom of the squat while simultaneously promoting proper overhead mechanics and postural strength. While this exercise entails no overhead pressing movements, it helps lifters promote the Press ’s same postural benefits.

press kettlebell
(Source: www.youtube.com)

While we always suggested you refer to your doctor and medical professional for questions like this, it is often advisable for individuals with poor pressing mechanics to use the press to strengthen the upper back and learn to promote overhead strength without sacrificing the stability of the core and upper back. If you experience pain, however, you either need to use lighter weights or stop performing this movement and consult a trained professional.

Unilateral exercises, such as the one arm kettlebellZpress, allow you to work each side of the body individually to build balanced strength and an aesthetic physique. Assume a seated position on the floor with your legs straight ahead and slightly open.

Grasp a kettle bell with a neutral grip and curl it into a front racked position. Press the bell overhead until the shoulder reaches full flexion and the elbow is locked out.

Slowly lower the kettle bell back to the starting position and repeat for the assigned number of repetitions. If you sense any pressure in your neck or traps during the movement, look to address a lack of thoracic spine extension or shoulder flexion.

If you can’t lock out the elbows overhead than it may indicate a lack of shoulder mobility due to poor scapular upward rotation.

(Source: www.youtube.com)

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